Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Great logos and wordmarks from Winnipeg's past ....

Today's National Post had a great, fun article exploring the depths of Canadian Trademarks Database to see who owned what, from the expression "Take off, eh?” to the Eaton's name and logo.

I thought I would take a look back at some Winnipeg gems, particularly logos, and see who owns what. Surprisingly, the trademarks for many of them have expired over the years as organizations  failed to renew them. (Note that though the logo's trademark may have expired, the corporate name or word mark may still be protected.)

The word mark and logo for Winnipeg: One Great City, the "meh" sounding tourism campaign, was registered in 1991 and allowed to expire in 2008 by Tourism Winnipeg.

Many slogans associated with the city, though, came from business organizations and not necessarily for tourism purposes.

"Love Me, Love My Winnipeg" was registered in 1983 by the Winnipeg Chamber of commerce as part of a campaign for the “promotion of the City of Winnipeg as a place in which to work, do business, and live.” Its ownership of the trademark expired in 2000 when it failed to renew it.

Go back to 1980 and "Where the New West Begins" was registered by the Winnipeg Business Development Corporation for much the same purposes. This logo did make it onto city documents and vehicles. The ownership of the trademark fell by the wayside 1996.

Some Winnipeg facilities had nifty logos back in the day. The Winnipeg Convention Centre's original logo is retro gold. Filed in 1975, they failed to renew it in 1993.

Sports logos are always fun.

If you want to make a replica of the replica Winnipeg Falcons jersey, forget it. Hockey Canada owns that trademark along with other Winnipeg Falcon-related logos. Interestingly, the Winnipeg Victorias logo is registered by a Vancouver-based group called Vintage League in 2010.

The original Winnipeg Goldeyes logo from 1954 appears to have expired back in 1985 when TV station CJAY at Polo Park failed to renew the trademark.

Juniors Drive Ins has a trio of logos that were filed in 1976 but all expired in 1995. To give an idea of how detailed the description of logo could be, here is how their round one pictured above was described:

"Superimposed on semi-circles, the upper portion of which is red and the lower portion of which is blue, are the words JUNIOR'S DRIVE INN in white with semi-circles created by the "J" and the "S" in white and OF WINNIPEG in black. These semi-circles are surrounded by a series of circular frames commencing with the inner circle to the outer in the following colours respectively: orange, white and black."

It seems as though the original Winnipeg Sun logo (1991 - 1994) has expired.

Interestingly, so has the Winnipeg Transit black-on-orange "T" logo. Originally filed in 1978, they don't appear to have renewed it in 2010. Transit's Rapid Transit "rt", "telebus" and "navigo" logos are still active, though. **** The Transit logo appears twice. Once as expunged and a second time, in 2009, as being active again. Perhaps someone forgot to renew it and because of the length of time it has to go through the process again.

There were some surprisingly old trademarks in the database that have been spoken for until very recently.

Pellessier's Banquet Ale, for instance, was registered by the brewery in 1953 and renewed by Labatt's right up until 2014.

Sloane's Malt Extract's logo showing two servicemen saluting the product name was registered in 1929. The product seems to have had its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s, but the trademark for the name and logo were renewed right up until 2000.

The oldest Winnipeg-related trademark I could find was for Royal Crown Soap. The trademark was registered in 1893 when Manlius Bull, yes, that was his name, created the company. In the 1990s it got ensnared by the conglomerate Unilever and they stopped renewing the trademark in 2013. A sister product, Royal Crown's Sodaline Soap, was registered in 1903 and expired in 1994.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Winnipeg Streetcar Strike of 1906

Western Canada Pictoral Index, Robert Goodall Collection, No. 9842

My column in today's Winnipeg Free Press is about the Winnipeg Streetcar Strike of 1906. It shocked the city with its violence and the sight of troops in the street.

It is an event I knew very little about before I dove into the newspapers of the day. It ended up being a fascinating glimpse into Winnipeg's early public transportation woes and labour strife.

At 2,500 words it is my longest column by far, but I could have written another 2,500 more!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A belated bye-bye to Blue Ribbon Tea (1897 - 2015)

October 25, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune

Here's a slightly out-of-date news update: Unilever Canada discontinued the production of Blue Ribbon Tea back in 2015.

They confirmed this in an email response to me, saying there are many reasons why a product is dropped. In this case, "Consumer demand is a major factor. If the level of demand is insufficient to ensure that consumers receive high quality products at an affordable price, the product will likely be discontinued."

With that, a product with that originated in Winnipeg 120 years ago quietly disappeared from the retail landscape.

The Blue Ribbon Manufacturing Company was created in the late 1890s by the J. and G. F. Galt Company.

John Galt and his cousin George F. Galt, also see, both from well-to-do Ontario families, came to Winnipeg in 1882 and set up their grocery wholesale business on Ross Street. Their business boomed along with the city's economy and in 1887, they had a large factory and warehouse built on Princess Street.

November 22, 1897, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1897, they created a subsidiary called the Blue Ribbon Manufacturing Company at 333 Elgin Avenue. They hired John Dingle Roberts, of competitor Pure Gold Manufacturing of Toronto, to run the factory.

Customers got a preview of their product at their booth at the Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition that summer when they offered free tea to all.

By November, Blue Ribbon's plant was up and running producing the household basics: coffee; tea; baking powder; spices; and herbs. More than just a re-packager, they roasted their own coffee, blended their own tea and ground their own spices at their Winnipeg plant.

Thanks to the reach of the Galt's wholesale company, Blue Ribbon instantly had Western-Canadian wide distribution.

In 1901 they had new, larger premises built for the company at 87 King Street.

Top: Western Home Monthly, July 1923 (Peel's)
Bottom: The 19th edition, 1949, (AbeBooks)

In 1905, the company published the Blue Ribbon Cook Book, subtitled "Prepared especially for everyday use in Western homes."

Costing just 25 cents, it was packed full of recipes, including a section for bachelor cooking, and handy household tips. It became a staple in many pioneer homes.

At least nineteen editions were printed into the late 1940s, though later versions swapped "Western" for "Canadian" in the subtitle.

Booth at 1927 Pacific National Exhibition (Vancouver Archives)

The company underwent a number of corporate changes through the decades.

In 1907, it took on more partners and became Blue Ribbon Company Limited. Three years later, the Galts merged their Galt Company with it and left the grocery wholesale business behind.

In 1930, two years after the death of George and three years before the death of John, control of the company was sold to Blue Ribbon Corporation Ltd.

By World War II, Blue Ribbon had built a second plant in Vancouver and bought Toronto-based competitor Pure Gold Manufacturing. Generally speaking, Blue Ribbon served the west with its brand and Pure Gold the east.

October 15, 1959, Winnipeg Free Press

On October 31, 1959, Blue Ribbon was purchased by Brooke Bond Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of the U.K.-based tea and spice company. Though the manufacturing plant stayed in Winnipeg, the head office moved to Montreal.

Blue Ribbon's tea, coffee, baking soda carried on under the new company, though, it seems, the spice division was either discontinued or absorbed under the existing Brooke Bond Spices trade name.

December 3, 1960, Winnipeg Tribune

In their product roster, Brooke Bond had another national tea favourite, this one from Eastern Canada, called Red Rose.

The two teas sometimes shared Brooke Bond marketing features such as their collectors cards series.

These plastic cards, seventeen different series produced for Canadian products between about 1959 and 1974, came free inside boxes of Red Rose or Blue Ribbon tea. Topics included Songbirds of North America, animals, baseball players and the Future of Transportation.

The card idea originated with Brooke Bond's U.K. teas in 1954.

Interestingly, that same year, Blue Ribbon offered a similar set of cards, a series on CFL players. It's not clear if one of the tea companies shared or "borrowed" the marketing idea from the other.


In 1984, British-Dutch company Unilever acquired Brooke Bond for £389 million in a hostile takeover. The conglomerate, which by this time owned Lipton's, was primarily interested in Brooke Bond's hefty share of the British tea market. 

Soon after, Canadian manufacturing plants in places like Saint John, NB and Winnipeg, were closed. (If you know more about when it left Winnipeg, please let me know below !)

With this and subsequent takeovers Unilever had about a dozen brands of tea in its product line. Some were known to large sections of the globe, like PG Tips and Lipton which were also sold in Canada. Others were specific to countries such as India and Australia. In Canada, they now had local brands Red Rose and Blue Ribbon.

Blue Ribbon products existed until the 2010s when they began to disappear from grocery store ads. Today, none of them are listed on its website under "products".

Unilever confirmed that the tea was discontinued, that was in 2015. A follow-up email about when the coffee and baking powder was discontinued has not been responded to.

More ads:

"Mmmm... lead lined packets!" June 13, 1906, Winnipeg Free Press

Blue Ribbon ad, 1958, Winnipeg Tribune

Blue Ribbon ad, ca. 1930s (Calgary)

Blue ribbon ad, June 3, 1904, The Voice (Winnipeg)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Behind the Photo: R. J. Wolfe's Painted Lady

Often, I will see an old photo or ad and spend some time digging into its back story. Sometimes I find a great story, sometimes not. Either way, I learn a few things about the city's history. Here's my latest attempt:

Image: Kelly Hughes

CKUW radio host
and man-about-town Kelly Hughes posted a photo of this painting last week. It was part of an eclectic mix of items he was trying to get rid of from his basement, likely stolen from other people's homes, (kidding!)

The unframed oil-on-wood bears the signature "R. J. Wolfe" and no other identifying information.

Always up to challenge myself, I thought I would try my best to find out more about the artist.

Images: Chris Glendinning

After some research, I am quite sure that the R. J. Wolfe who painted this portrait is Richard Jeffreys "Jeff" Wolfe (1905-1974). I say "quite" because I could not find a reference to this exact work.

There was, however, an active local artist and art teacher named R. J. Wolfe who was involved in the Winnipeg Sketch Club from the 40's to the 60s. For much of this time, he was one of only two people to go by the name "R J Wolfe" listed in the Henderson Directory, the other one was a trucker.

There is no detailed biography written about R. J. Wolfe anywhere. The information below is pieced together from a couple of dozen newspaper mentions and a few online references. If you have more information about the man or your own theories about who "R. J. Wolfe" was, I'd love to hear from you. Please include it below in the comments section or email me!

November 4, 1916, Winnipeg Tribune

Born in England, Richard Jeffreys Wolfe likely came to Winnipeg as a child and his family settled in the West End. Someone with that same full name attended Greenway School and graduated from Daniel McIntyre Collegiate in 1924.

A 1950s Free Press article states: "… he studied art under A. Musgrove and at the Winnipeg School of Art, studied at the St. Ives School of Painting in Cornwall (England), the Slade School of Fine Art at University College, London and the Academie Julian in Paris."

I could not find out his exact local post-secondary education and the studying he did internationally was likely by visiting these places as part of a sabbatical he took with is family in 1951, which is mentioned below.

Highland School after 1918 (Manitoba Historical Society)

On June 28, 1930, Wolfe married Blanche Clarissa Hark in East Selkirk, Manitoba.

Blanche had been a teacher at the two-room Highland School in St. Clements since 1928. For the 1930- 31 school year the couple taught there together, the only two teachers on staff.

Wolfe then taught at Kemnay, Manitoba before becoming principal of Deloraine School for the 1934 - 35 school year. Later that decade he taught in Carman, Manitoba, the Wolfes being added to the town's election rolls in 1937.

By the 1940s, they were living in Winnipeg. Initially they rented homes and eventually settled at 539 Borebank street in the 1950s.

Wolfe taught at Hugh John MacDonald School from 1944 - 1959 then at Grant Park High School from 1960 to 1968. His obituary refers to him as an art teacher.

As for Blanche, she left teaching soon after marriage to concentrate on their family. The couple had two girls: Kathaleen Nancy, who died in December 1937 at Carman, when just a couple of weeks old. Another daughter, Eileen Patricia, followed.

When their daughter was older, Blanche became a substitute teacher at Winnipeg School Division No. 1.

September 30, 1946, Winnipeg Tribune

The first mention of Wolfe as artist was at a non-juried art show in September 1946. It was hosted by the Canadian Federation of Artists (CFA) and showed 99 submitted pieces from Manitoba and Saskatchewan that hung at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for two weeks.

In a Winnipeg Tribune review of the exhibit his painting earned a mention: “R. J. Wolfe’s' Peeping Tom' is memorable; a brown staring face set between the oaks slabs of a half open door, also brown.” The reviewer refers to him as “a new artist”.

He showed at another non-juried show of the Manitoba Chapter of the CFA in December 1948. A Tribune reviewer wrote: “In deference to Christmas season, it may not be appropriate to close with mention of R. J. Wolfe’s ‘Magic Land’, an oil which depicts children peering into a delightfully fantastic display of snow, Hansel and Gretel houses, gigantic candy cane, and Santa Claus in his sleigh.

November 2, 1948, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1948, Wolfe became a member of the Winnipeg Sketch Club and showed his piece 'Pavillion at Assiniboine Park' at their November show at the Winnipeg art Gallery. His name pops up from time to time in articles about Sketch Club happenings over the next decade.

Wolfe took a year-long sabbatical from the school division to study art in 1951. His wife and daughter Patricia, then 14, accompanied him. It was during this trip that he visited schools and galleries in London, Cornwall and Paris.

September 17, 1951, Winnipeg Free Press

Upon Wolfe's return, he gained a reputation as a vocal critic of modernist art. His feeling was that it was little more than a passing fad.

At a February 1952 meeting of the Sketch Club he made a presentation about his trip and proclaimed that: "Modern art has had its day", noting a number of shows that had not done well in Europe and citing some people in the art world that he had spoken to on his journey.

This led to a  Free Press article in September 1952 about his trip. He told the paper: "There is a definite trend towards the more normal. And in about another five years I think the accent will again be on realistic painting to a much more marked degree than it is today."

In a scathing letter to the Winnipeg Free Press, which appeared November 11, 1955, he congratulated reviewers for panning recent modernist shows at the Art Gallery. He wrote: “So-called ‘modern art’ was well on its way to burial in Europe as long ago as 1951” and referenced some shows there that failed. He concluded “If an artist wants to go up into an 'ivory tower' and paint tripe for his own amusement, that’s his business, but let’s not have it in our Art Gallery.”

In February 1959, CBC Winnipeg's television program Roundtable took on the topic "Is this Art?" It was in relation to the Jacques Lipchitz collection of sculptures and sketches that was showing at  the Winnipeg Art Gallery from February 8, 1959 - March 8, 1959. The panellists were: Jan Kamienski, Winnipeg artist; R.J. Wolfe, city schools art teacher; and sculptor Leo Mol, sculptor.

December 10, 1955, Winnipeg Tribune

The only photo I could find of Wolfe was in a 1955 story in the Winnipeg Tribune about Winnipeg School Division's adult night school program at Kelvin High School. He is shown teaching art.

Wolfe was also a member of the Southwood Golf Club and a pretty good golfer. His name appears in the late 60s and early 70s as part of the senior golf circuit in the city.

April 13, 1968, Brandon Sun

Wolfe retired in June 1968, but before he left he made a little splash in the media after appearing at a public hearing about the "joint school board - teachers association youth study". 

He told the panel that he had grown fed up with the insolence found in schools. He wanted to see a strict enforcement of the corporal punishment rules and even suggested that for the worst students the division set up one school as a detention centre with classrooms on the main floors and dormitories above. “It’s one thing or the other, or else are schools are going to go to pot.”

It became a CP wire story and in Manitoba was picked up by the Brandon Sun.

On May 14, 1968, the article was referred to on the floor of the Legislature by John Tanchak, MLA
He asked the minister that in view of Wolfe's comments were schools getting the supports they needed to handle delinquent students. It was part of a series of questions asked by opposition members on the topic of educational and time ran out before the minister's designate got to the answer.

December 1948, Winnipeg Tribune

If someone really wanted to take this search to the next level, the Winnipeg's Sketch Club's fonds are at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Archives. It includes select catalogues from their shows over the years. A search MAY turn up more information about his painted lady, assuming that it was done for a showing.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Artspace at 30 !

My column in today's Winnipeg Free Press is about the former Gault Brothers' Warehouse, better known as Artspace.

In recent years we've taken development in the Exchange District for granted - there are always a number of big projects on the go at any one time. Thirty years ago, though, when Artspace was being created it was seen as a bold and risky venture.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Brandon's 8th Street Bridge to be Demolished

8th Street Bridge in 1981, (McKee Archives)

Earlier this month, the city of Brandon announced that the nondescript 8th Street Bridge will be demolished. The work is expected to cost $825,000 and should last from April to September 2017.

The bridge, opened in 1968, is second 8th Street Bridge, to stand on this site. It was closed to southbound traffic in May 2015 due to condition issues, including a corroding expansion plate. It was closed completely to vehicle traffic in July 2015.

There is still no firm plan to replace the structure.

 Alignment of bridge, ca. 1957, (Manitoba Maps on Flickr)

Like Winnipeg, the city of Brandon is divided in half by the CPR and the issue of providing sufficient crossings of the rail yards has often been contentious. 

Many crossings have come and gone, though the current array of a 1st, 8th and 18th crossing have been around since soon after the first 8th Street bridge opened. The bridge actually crosses halfway between 8th and 9th streets on the south side.

 Bridge in background, ca. 1910s, (Canafornian on Ipernity)

On the morning of March 19, 1903, Brandon's Mayor Hall and the CPR signed an agreement that would see the railway construct a vehicular bridge over their yards then hand it over to the city free of charge. The sweetheart deal was due to the fact that the CPR, controversially, wanted to close other, older crossings such as at 6th street.

The bridge was 26 feet wide, 20 of that was roadway with a 6 foot sidewalk. The superstructure was made of steel with a wooden deck. The approaches were also of wood and the piles were concrete.

Bridge at bottom, lengthy north side approach at top, ca. 1922, (McKee Archives)

Work finally began on the project in mid-August, prompting the Brandon Sun to write in an editorial on August 18, 1903: “For years, the people have been asking for relief in vain and to see the work at last commenced that will give them the desired relief must be the cause of great rejoicing to the residents of this district.”     

Just getting out of the ground took a long time as piles were driven from 6th avenue to 9th. Due to it falling between streets, each approach had a dogleg turn especially on the north, Assiniboine Street, side.

In January 1904, R. McManus of the Hamilton Bridge Works Co. of Hamilton, Ontario arrived to oversee the construction of the superstructure.

Top: Bridge and pedestrian ramp at right, ca. 1933 (McKee Archives)
Bottom: July 19, 1904, Brandon Sun

At the council meeting of July 18, 1904, a letter from the CPR was read to council informing them that the bridge was now complete and possession could be handed over immediately.

The bridge served the city well, with varying amounts of maintenance and reconstruction, including the of its concrete piers around 1934. In the 1950s, though, age had begun to take its toll. Weight restrictions were limited and in 1957 the deck underwent major reconstruction with more work done in 1960.

In 1961, city engineer H. R. Akehurst noted that despite the work, the timbers and stringers beneath the deck were rotten and the nails, even on the new planks, were working themselves out on a regular basis. (City Manager G. J. Darychuk noted at a later meeting that "a number of cars had been damaged by the ‘see-saw’ action of the surface planks.”)

Top: ca. 1963, (McKee Archives)
November 23, 1961, Brandon Sun

Akehurst requested that an engineering firm be brought in to do a more complete study of its condition and Underwood, McLellan and Associates from Winnipeg were hired.

Their report warned of a number of dangerous conditions and major repairs that would be needed in what would ultimately end up being losing battle to keep the bridge open long-term. The best the city could hope for was fifteen years if they completely replaced the decking. The worst case scenario was no further life if the structure holding the deck in place was found to be too badly damaged.

For good measure, the firm drew up plans for a basic concrete overpass as part of their study.

A final decision about what to do dragged on for years. In August 1966, council voted, (with the mayor having to break the 8 - 8 tie), to take a chance on the redecking at a cost of $66,000.

It turns out that the city faced the worst case scenario when the removal of the deck revealed rot in the structure below. On September 5, 1966 the bridge was condemned.

September 8, 1967, Brandon Sun

This left the city with a huge headache when it came to crossing the yards.

By this time, the First Street Bridge approach's "temporary" closure had become permanent when the approach was removed. This bridge, now with no deck planks, was also impassable. That left the 18th Street bridge the only crossing in the area. A citizen named Wally Kaschor quipped in a letter to the Brandon Sun, “So, here we are with a city divided like Berlin."

the closure meant that pedestrians, including children, chose to cross the busy rail yards on foot rather than take what could be a 30 or so block detour to 18th Street.

September 9, 1967, Brandon Sun

The city's temporary solution was to lay a plywood pathway across the bridge structure for pedestrians to use. May complained that it was too narrow, slippery when wet, had no proper handrails and wasn't properly attached too the deck.

In October, about 50 North End residents, including Mr, Kaschor, acted out a mock "opening ceremony" of the pathway. It included someone dressed as “the mayor” and two people in white coats carrying a stretcher across the pathway to symbolize the lack of access to emergency services that residents of the North End now had.  To illustrate how narrow it was, two women coming from opposite ends of the bridge met at the middle to show that they could not pass each other.

As expected, most people still chose to walk through the rail yards. A poll in October of three, two-hour peak periods showed that only 21 people used the path and 82 crossed the rail yard on foot. Of elementary school children, only 8 out of 20 elementary school used the pathway.

Top: January 30, 1968, Brnadon Sun
Bottom: February 8, 1968, Brandon Sun

Talks about what to do with the bridge resumed again in late January 1968. On January 29, council as a whole passed the recommendation of a special bridge committee that a new bridge, based on that basic model drawn up by Underwood, McLellan and Associates in 1963, be constructed.

The new structure would be 270 feet long and built of five concrete spans.To save money, some of the existing concrete piers, which were only 33 years old, would be reused.

On February 5, 1968 the new bridge got final approval from council in an 8 – 2 vote.

The detractors were Aldermen Berneski and Nickel, who said that  reusing the old supports may still cause weight restrictions and would wear out faster than the rest of the structure. Berneski also noted the "unseemly appearance" of the bridge – a basic, concrete overpass.

Top: June 21, 1968, Brandon Sun
Bottom: December 28, 1968, Brandon Sun

The June 1968 tender for the construction bridge was awarded to Claydon Company of Winnipeg won with the lowest bid of $305,000.

Work went quickly, though did fall a few weeks behind schedule due to delays in demolishing the original structure.

On December 23, 1968, Mayor S. A. Magnacca gave the citizens of Brandon an early Christmas gift when he and other dignitaries walked to the top and officially opened the bridge.

8th Street Bridge Manitoba Historical Society
Petition Circulating in Brandon to Replace 8th Street Bridge CBC

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Harvey Smith (1936 - 2017)

Harvey Smith entered civic politics in 1980 when he beat he beat Geoff Dixon, a former councillor and the ICEC candidate for Sargent Park.

Though he may have slowed in his later years on council, most people will remember him as a tireless fighter for the inner city and for the underdog.

One of the many causes that he fought for was to keep the Sherbrook Pool open.

The last time I saw him was in early January 2017 at its grand reopening after a four year closure.  It was nice that he was able to see the festivities.

Smith died on March 12, 2017.

Rest in peace, Harvey.